Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Chain Gang

Released 1993 on Matador
Reviewed by Burryman, 21/11/2003ce

Totally maximist 40-deuce rock from these uncrowned Kings of NYC. PERFUMED is a hodgepodge of recordings from throughout Chain Gang's long and shambling "career", dating back to 1976 with a nicely home-taped version of "That's How Strong My Love Is" and moving up through various late 80's sessions. Along the way, you get to hear all their rare, late 70's 7" cuts (including the infamous "Son of Sam", which was released whilst Bobby Berkowitz was still on the loose), as well as a bunch of cool live tunes from gigs at clubs you never went to. The sound lies somewhere within an axis mapped out by early Pere Ubu, Vertical Slit, and Roky Erikson's Blieb Alien--you know, DEEP into that apocalypic rock 'n' roll Bermuda Triangle where only the most intrepid dare to sail. Ahoy!

Like me, you'll probably hear a punk influence, a 60's pop influence, an R&B influence, an 80's bighair rock influence (wha?), etc. But mostly, you'll hear a bunch of long-gone yahoos pressing their thumbs down HARD on the Chain Gang button. Which you're then gonna have to admit has a nice, warm, furry glow like no other that you've ever fallen under the spell of. My fave cut is "O.T.B.", a long-gone slopwave disco number that'll shake the pants off of any betting man who hustles up next to it. But the whole glorious mess is worthy of your attention. And they thank The Teardrop Explodes in the liner notes-- maybe someone can one day explain that to me.

Really, PERFUMED is a true testimonial to the creative energy of a breed of once-flourishing Manhattan underclass who, by now, have been pretty much priced out of the whole flippin' nation. Find it tonight online (if you're stateside, you can find it used for cheap most any town you roll into), listen up, and hear how the other half lives.

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